VILNIUS – Lithuania's State Defense Council will decide on the handover of howitzers and air defense systems to Ukraine by taking into account not only the chief of defense's advice but also the political situation and other aspects, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says.
"The chief of defense probably did not say directly that we should or should not provide assistance to Ukraine in the form of specific military equipment. But his arguments will be considered and the most appropriate place to do so is a meeting of the State Defense Council, not the public sphere," Nauseda told reporters on Friday without providing any details on when this issue could be considered.
"We will consider not only the military advice at one of the meetings, but also other components, including the strategic and political situation, and we will make the final decision that will best meet our national security interests and, undoubtedly, reflect our solidarity with Ukraine," the Lithuanian president said.
Lithuanian Chief of Defense Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupsys told reporters a week ago that he would propose to the State Defense Council not to transfer Lithuania's PzH 2000 howitzers and NASAMS air defense systems to Ukraine, stressing that these capabilities were necessary to ensure Lithuania's security and meet its NATO commitments.
Last Wednesday, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said he was surprised at the fact that the issue of giving or not giving weapons to Ukraine was being discussed in public.
Lithuania currently mulls handing over howitzers and air defense systems to Ukraine in response to its request. However, critics say the transfer of these weapons would erode Lithuania's recently acquired capabilities.